Abstract for: A Soft Landing Model and an Experimental Platform as an Introductory Control Design Tool

This paper presents a soft landing model and an experimental platform. The aim of the modeling effort is to transparently represent the process of landing a spacecraft on the surface of a celestial body. The process of landing is a challenging task because there are two main contradictory performance criteria to be met simultaneously; the landing duration should be as short as possible, but at the same time crashing the spacecraft to the surface should be avoided. If the only criterion was to prevent crashing the spacecraft, that would not be difficult to achieve by slowing down the landing process. However, long landing duration necessitates extensive use of fuel, which should also be avoided. As a summary, the main goal in the soft landing problem is to land the spacecraft as gently and as fast as possible. The model and the modeling process presented in this paper will serve as a modeling case to be used in teaching. Based on the soft landing model presented in this paper, we also developed a platform for simulation experiments. Our simulation-based discovery learning environment can be used to introduce dynamic complexity. It can also be used as an introductory control design tool for physics, engineering, and interested social sciences students.